The new NFL season begins in under a fortnight. Here is a preview for every team and a Superbowl ante-post recommendation
Indianapolis Colts to win the Superbowl 9-1 each way (Half odds 1,2) with William Hill
Division by division with best prices to win the division and my forecasts for win-loss records
Dallas Cowboys 6/4 Philadelphia 7/4 NY Giants 4/1 Washington 16/1
Dallas Cowboys: 10-6. The Cowboys will have to answer questions at running back this season with Murray now at Philadelphia but the defensive pas rush looks much stronger than last year The schedule-is favourable. They have back-to-back games against teams with winning records in 2014 just once (Seattle and Philadelphia in Weeks 8-9). In the second half of the season, they play just two teams that had winning records in 2014. The Cowboys could win consecutive NFC East titles
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6. When you factor in all the change Chip Kelly has brought about — at quarterback, at running back, at wide receiver, in the secondary — the Eagles are especially difficult to project this year. Should be in contention to win the division again with a potent offense likely
New York Giants: 7-9 I see them starting fairly quickly thanks to getting three of the first four games at home and the offense should be improved from last season with the huge potential of Odell Beckham and a beefed up offensive line
Washington Redskins: 6-10. I like the defensive additions and they are back on the road to competitiveness. Jay Gruden still must prove himself as a head coach and quarterback Robert Griffin III must prove he can be an effective passer after two poor years
Green Bay Packers: 11-5. The Packers won’t be able to run the table at home like they did last year, not with the Seattle Seahawks coming to Lambeau Field, and they have to deal with the loss through injury of number one receiver Jordy Nelson for the season. This is a talented deep team though and it looks like the best team in the NFC North again.
Minnesota Vikings: 10-6. The Vikings have a tough opening stretch — they don’t play a team with a 2014 losing record until Week 8 — but they’ll get to weather that stretch with three of their first five at home. The Vikings are a team developing fast with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, Adrian Peterson back and a lot of young defensive talent. The play-offs are becoming more likely
Detroit Lions: 9-7. If the Detroit Lions are able to manage this schedule and make a second consecutive playoff appearance, they will have done it despite two brutal stretches coming at the beginning and the end of the season. Looking at the schedule, the Lions could start 1-4 and still contend for a playoff berth, but it won’t be enough.
Chicago Bears: 5-11. A tricky opening three weeks of the schedule against Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle does not look promising for a club in rebuild mode after a horrible 5-11 effort in 2014, still lacking defensive talent and with huge question marks at quarterback
New Orleans Saints 21/10 Atlanta Falcons 21/10 Carolina anthers 14/5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8/1
Atlanta Falcons: 7-9. The Falcons and new coach Dan Quinn will benefit from playing eight teams that finished below .500 last season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things will be easy. A season-opening Monday Night Football matchup against Chip Kelly and the quick-strike Philadelphia Eagles will be a test of how quickly Quinn can improve the defense. The Falcons should be able to finish around .500 in this weak division but are not yet rebuilt to contend for late in the post-season.
Carolina Panthers: 10-6. The Panthers return 10 of 11 starters from a defense that finished 10th in the NFL and 8 of 11 starters from an offense that helped Carolina win five of the final six games in 2014. The team will rely on a strong defense and QB Cam Newton to be competitive as the loss through injury of Kelvin Benjamin at receiver is a big loss..
New Orleans Saints 7-9. The Saints are a bigger question mark than usual after a 7-9 meltdown and offseason makeover that saw a lot of talent depart with salary cap issues. They still might have the most talent in the NFC South, starting with QB Drew Brees but they have to regain the home dominance that disappeared last season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-8. The Bucs have the nucleus to have a very good defense, led by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. If they can get some offensive production from their top drat pick quarterback Jameis Winston, they should be much more competitive than last year and be one of the league’s most improved teams.
Seattle Seahawks 1/3 Arizona Cardinals 7/1 St Louis Rams 9/1 San Francisco 49ers 16/1
Seattle Seahawks: 11-5. Nine games come against 2014 playoff teams and five of the road games come against teams that won at least 10 games last season. The Seahawks open with two road games for the first time since 2011 and have to end the season with three of the last five on the road, including the season finale at Arizona. Still the team to beat in the division, but it is tightening up
Arizona Cardinals: 9-7. With Carson Palmer fit at QB the team that began last season 9-1 but faded once Palmer was injured will be looking to challenge Seattle for the division. The final three games against the Eagles, Packers and Seahawks could dictate the Cardinals’ NFC standing
St Louis Rams: 9-7.This is a defense that’s ready to win now. Barring a major uptick in offensive production, it’s hard to see how the Rams take a much-needed next step in the fourth year of the Jeff Fisher regime
San Francisco 49ers 5-11. They have the league’s third-hardest strength of schedule, and an inexperienced new head coach in Jim Tomsula while dealing with major roster turnover with five first round draft picks and four all-pros departed from the roster since last season. A rebuilding season is very likely
New England Patriots 5/6 Miami Dolphins 7/2 Buffalo Bills 5/1 New York Jets 12/1
Miami Dolphins: 10-6. I like the talent on this year’s team — especially with the addition of Ndamukong Suh which could transform this defense — but coaching is still a question mark. Can fourth-year coach Joe Philbin get Miami to 10 wins and the playoffs with a challenging schedule? If Ryan Tannehill continues his progress then they have a chance of challenging New England for the division at last
New England Patriots: 10-6. A Week 4 bye, which is as early as it can come, generally isn’t ideal. Back-to-back prime-time games in late November — against Rex Ryan’s Bills in Foxboro, and then against Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver — will be a challenge, as they will be the seventh and eighth consecutive games played after that bye.
Buffalo Bills: 8-8. Rex Ryan’s new-look Bills will face a tall task early in the season when they host the Colts and Patriots to kick off their 2015 slate. If they can weather the early storm, and also a late-season stretch of five road games in six weeks, they stand a chance of making the playoffs with a very strong defense but the main issue remains, they don’t have a starting caliber NFL quarterback on the roster
New York Jets 7-9. With an improved secondary, the Jets could double their win total from last season. but uncertainty at quarterback, coupled with an improved AFC East, makes the playoffs out of the question in 2015.
Baltimore Ravens 7/4 Pittsburgh Steelers 9/4 Cincinnati Bengals 11/4 Cleveland Browns 12/1
Baltimore Ravens: 9-7. The combination of four trips out west (including two back-to-back), an opening stretch of five road games in the first seven weeks and a total of five games against teams with losing records make this the toughest schedule in coach John Harbaugh’s eight seasons. This looks like one of the closet divisions and the Ravens will ebi in the hunt for it
Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7 .With a good veteran roster and some favorable late-season matchups, the Bengals can be in contention throughout with a strong defense and good running game. Andy Dalton at QB has been a limiting factor to post-season progress so far. Despite prime-time road games in Weeks 15 and 16 (the Bengals are 1-12 on the road at night since 2005), they could well make the play-offs again
Cleveland Browns: 3-13 The Browns quarterback situation looks one of the most difficult in the league, as is the lack of starting quality wide receivers. That lack of a potent offense in an era of offense and a difficult schedule means the Browns take steps back this season despite young talent on both lines
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-8. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will miss the first two games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and Martavis Bryant misses four games. The Steelers offense should be very high scoring but probably needs to be as the defense looks to have sever weaknesses at outside linebacker and in the secondary
Indianapolis Colts 3/10 Houston Texans 9/2 Jacksonville Jaguars 25/1 Tennessee Titans 28/1
Indianapolis Colts: 13-3. The Colts have the talent to finish with one of the best records in the NFL, and the schedule definitely favours them. Indianapolis opens the season at Buffalo instead of playing there in the dead of winter in December. The Colts get New England and Denver at home and they finish the season with two of their last three games at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Houston Texans: 9-7. Whole there are doubts on the offense (at quarterback and Arian Foster’s injury) but the defense led by JJ Watt and strengthened by the return of Brian Cushing and the acquisition of Vince Wilfork should lead them to a winning record and a possible wild card spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-11. The Jaguars are going to be relying upon a lot of second-year players on offense, including quarterback Blake Bortles and three receivers If Bortles can go from the league’s worst starter last season to a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, then the Jaguars can improve a few games on last year’s record
Tennessee Titans: 5-11. Two things will make the 2015 Titans a few games better than the 2014 version. The defense is already better and they have Mariota at quarterback to develop.
Denver Broncos:11-5. The Broncos have won four consecutive AFC West titles and should be favourites to land a fifth. The Roster’s strength is beginning to change though and they may have to rely on their defense with the team implementing a new offense in what is probably Peyton Manning’s last year, and with an inexperienced offensive line.
Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7. The NFL did the Chiefs no favours with the first four-week stretch of the season. Included is a Thursday night home game against the Denver Broncos and road games with the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals.The Ciefs have talent including two stars in Jaamal Charles and Justin Houston, and should have a winning season.
San Diego Chargers: 8-8. The Chargers face four of last year’s playoff teams as part of the team’s road schedule. So it will not be an easy task to win away from Qualcomm Stadium against a daunting schedule, despite the return of Philip Rivers and with rookie running back Melvin Gordon offering exciting potential.
Oakland Raiders: 6-10. The Raiders have won a total of 11 games in three seasons. They are starting another coaching era, this time with Jack Del Rio, who was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-11. This schedule is not nearly as difficult as last year’s, the toughest in the NFL. The Raiders have some winnable games and with young foundation players, quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Khalil Mack and rookie receiver Amari Cooper, the Raiders should double their win total from 2014.